skeptical of them listing basically every well-beloved 16/32-bit JRPG as an inspiration.
They listed three. And I think they're right to. I mean, they *didn't* list Star Ocean, and they're right not to, because they're not doing action-based combat, and despite the relatively large ensemble of characters, they probably aren't building 80+ "vignette" mini-ending scenes for those characters paired up.
Nor did they list Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy.
As far as I'm concerned, their early IPs (BoD and Cthulhu) were them getting their feet wet. I agree with you that the games were a little TOO repetitive: the second half of Cthulhu was a bit of a drag. I haven't played the two PAA games, but I think there they were at least somewhat hampered by having to follow along with Penny Arcade's ... whatever it is.
This game looks like the real deal. I think this is the kind of game they were born to make. If they can spice up combat, and keep them hawt Sega-CD-ish animations comin' my way, I have no reason not to deeply want this game. I think it's going to be rock solid.
In any case though ... yeah, $20 committed. Soundtrack is insta-win. Hope game will be too. :P